Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Chelsea High removes student newspaper advisor

23. October 2008 • Murph
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The Ann Arbor News notes that Chelsea School District Superintendent Dave Killips has removed the student newspaper’s long-term advisor, English teacher Phil Jones. Jones said the removal followed a private meeting in he criticized the Superintendent over long-running questions of editorial control of The Bleu Print by the school administration. While not advising the newspaper, Jones will remain an English teacher at Chelsea High School.

The new dispute between the student-run newspaper and the administration follows an incident in October 2006 when then-Principal Ron Mead ordered the removal of what he called a “one-sided’‘ story about alleged preferential treatment of Chelsea High School football players by area police.

After that incident, the school’s administration used prior review to monitor the paper and its articles before the paper was printed. On at least one occasion, the paper was not printed because the student journalists had no stories to replace ones that were deemed objectionable.

Then in the spring of 2008, Mead said that poor budget conditions meant that he had to cancel the class that produced the paper. Mead said the move was not related to the previous incidents. In an article in The Ann Arbor News at that time, Jones agreed that it wasn’t related, but said there had been continuing friction between the students and Mead.

Students were able to keep the paper going by forming an independent study class, supervised by Jones.

An A2News article from March 20, 2008, cites Jones as saying that he understand that budgetary constraints were the reason for removing the journalism class, but he criticized the administration’s treatment of the paper at that time by saying, “I encourage the kids to try to take chances, but that’s been beaten out of them. The paper is now pretty bland.”

(Disclosure: this blogger was on the Bleu Print’s staff in 1997, while a student at CHS, and notes that tensions related to administration oversight of the paper existed at that time as well.)

  1. Very similar things happened in my high school, back in 1969-73.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 23 '08 - 07:28PM    #
  2. I’m surprised that more student journalists don’t take their stories online into independent publications free of school oversight. The work necessary to get online is minimal. It’s not like you need access to a printing press.

       —John Q.    Oct. 23 '08 - 09:30PM    #
  3. Sucky, but it’s definitely been a long time coming. I loved Jones when I was on the staff in ’96. The administration probably always felt as though he was letting the inmates run the asylum, which is precisely what made the Bleu Print such a great experience. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other class that empowered students as much as his, or that placed as much responsibility on the kids.

       —Patrick    Oct. 23 '08 - 09:30PM    #
  4. We had similar crap happen at my high school paper, back in the days when we literally had to cut and rubber cement our stories. (Although we had a super time using the rubber cement for other things, like making boogers).

    Quote: Disclosure: this blogger was on the Bleu Print’s staff in 1997, while a student at CHS, and notes that tensions related to administration oversight of the paper existed at that time as well

    Love ya, Murph, but you just made me feel really, really old!

    School paper editor circa 1989-1990,


       —TeacherPatti    Oct. 23 '08 - 10:38PM    #
  5. Heh heh. Sorry to make you date yourself, but, yes, I missed the rubber cement layout era. I credit my high school Pagemaker experience for my being driven nuts in college when project-mates would insist that Word was the ultimate publishing software…

    (And then, of course, in grad school I started hanging out with people who use LaTeX for their homework assignments…)

       —Murph    Oct. 25 '08 - 04:52PM    #